Johanna from Bray bought a return Dart ticket at the self-service ticket machine in Bray Dart station on her way to the city centre. It was very early in the morning and she says that the ticket desk was not open at the time. As the Dart pulled in to Pearse, she got her ticket out of her bag only to realise that she had mistakenly bought a return to Dun Laoghaire instead of Pearse. The difference in price of the return ticket was just 50 cents. She immediately went to the station office to tell them of her mistake and to pay the 50 cent owing. Imagine her shock when he told her that she had committed an offence. The ticket man confiscated her ticket as 'evidence' and took her personal details. Johanna then got a fine in the post for ¤100. She immediately appealed the fine to Irish Rail but was turned down flat by the Appeals committee. They also advised her that said that if she didn't pay up they would be issuing court proceedings against her. With time running out Johanna called the Consumer Show and we contacted Irish Rail on her behalf. Initially they told us that they adopt a 'zero tolerance approach to anyone travelling without a ticket or with an invalid ticket' and that as such the penalty fare of ¤100 euro would stand. But Eddie gave them a call and they decided that on mature reflection they would not fine Johanna as a gesture of goodwill.
Statement from Irish Rail
We have - for a number of years now - instructed our Revenue Protection staff to adopt a zero tolerance approach to anyone travelling without a ticket or with an invalid ticket, and we support them in their implementation of this. There is an appeals process which Johanna has availed of, which was unsuccessful.
As you can imagine, differentiating between the deliberate fare evader and the honest mistake is essentially impossible. We therefore operate by clear principles the most basic of which is that it is every customer's responsibility to ensure they have the correct ticket.
The booking office in question was open on the day since 05.54hrs. In addition the ticket vending machines were operational, which the customer used. The customer, as a regular user of services, would have been aware of the correct fare for the journey taken, and the TVM clearly shows the journey selected and fare required on the screen prior to paying, which should have alerted the customer to the fact that an incorrect ticket had been chosen. The ticket was invalid once the customer travelled beyond Dun Laoghaire, and invalid tickets would not have operated the exit barriers to leave the platform, so the customer would have had to speak to station staff regardless of whether the holding of an invalid ticket was deliberate or an error.
However, as a gesture of goodwill, we are prepared to waive the penalty fare in this instance. We would be very grateful if, in addressing this matter, The Consumer Show would highlight the importance that all rail customers allow time to purchase tickets before their journey - either at the ticket office or ticket vending machine - and ensure they have the correct ticket in their possession until they leave the station at the end of the journey.